John McSherry / Dónal O'Connor


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Piper John McSherry (a founding member of the traditional Irish group Lúnasa) and fiddler Donald O'Connor have teamed up here for an album of traditional tunes with a difference. What you might expect is a typical romp through a program of uptempo reels and jigs, all of them played with blazing virtuosity, their energy broken only occasionally by a well-chosen slow air or song. Tripswitch is very different. While it does have its rollicking moments, the focus is on slower tunes played with a searching taste and musicality. The disc opens with a three-tune set consisting of the traditional march "Rose in the Gap" followed by two reels, "Old Dudeen" and "The First Month of Spring." The first two tunes in the set are played in a strangely deliberate and completely entrancing manner, and the third takes things out in a joyful sprint. The title track is a lovely slow reel written collaboratively by both players, while the "Sean Maguire's" set is all zippy energy: pay special attention to the graceful harmony playing at the end of the final tune. More change-ups come later in the program, when the duo play a brilliant set of Castillian tunes in five/eight (complete with flamenco-style clapping) and a jig from the Asturien region of Spain. Various guitarists pitch in to help (including McSherry's brother Paul and Breton guitarist Gilles LeBigot) on various tracks, and the entire album is simply a delight from start to finish. Very highly recommended.

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